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Christa Dias Photo by: Gary Landers / AP

Archdiocese expected to appeal teacher’s victory in pregnancy discrimination case

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Christa Dias Photo by: Gary Landers / AP

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is expected to appeal a recent court decision to award $171,000 to Christa Dias, the teacher who was fired from her Roman Catholic school for allegedly breaching her contract by becoming pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

The Associated Press reports that Christa Dias was awarded her reparations after a court ruled that her firing was discriminatory. Legal experts are now saying they expect the Archdiocese to appeal, which could “have legal impact beyond the jury decision.”

In October 2010, Dias was fired from two Cincinnati schools after it was revealed that she was pregnant from IVF. 

Steve Goodin, who represented the archdiocese and the schools in the court case, argued that Dias was fired for violating her contract which required her to comply with the philosophies and teachings of the Catholic church.

The Church considers artificial insemination immoral and a violation of church doctrine.

Dias, however, is a non-Catholic. She testified that she didn't know artificial insemination violated church doctrine or her employment pact. She said she thought the contract clause about abiding by church teachings meant she should be a Christian and follow the Bible.

It was also revealed that Dias was a lesbian, but both Dias and the archdiocese claimed this had nothing to do with her firing. Representatives for the archdiocese, however, did argue that as a lesbian, Dias never intended to abide by her contract; she kept her sexual orientation a secret because she knew that homosexual acts also would violate that contract.

The presiding judge told jurors that they could not consider sexual orientation in determining motivating factors for the firing.

Dias' attorney, Robert Klingler, argued she was fired simply because she was pregnant and unmarried, which is a violation state and federal law. Klingler also argued that his client worked as a non-ministerial employee and was not bound by such requirements included in the contract.

The Archdiocese, however, argued prior to the trial that Dias was in fact a ministerial employee during her time teaching at the Catholic schools. 

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Jessie Hill, a professor of civil rights and constitutional law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, said the Supreme Court has left "uncertainty about who is and who isn't a ministerial employee.”

Ultimately, Dias, who is now living in Atlanta with her daughter and her partner, was awarded $171,000 - $51,000 for back pay, $20,000 for compensatory damages, and $100,000 in punitive damages. 

Dias insists that her case “was never about the money.” She added, "They should have followed the law and they didn't."

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